The coal and energy crisis

Why are Pakistanis facing prolonged load-shedding when there is no difference between demand and supply at 22,797 MW?

Hassan Naqvi July 15, 2013
A million dollar question today: why are Pakistanis facing prolonged load-shedding when there is no difference between the demand and supply at 22,797 MW, according to the Pakistan Energy Year Book, 2012?

The share of oil and gas in power generation is 64.2 per cent while hydel is at 29.9 per cent and 35.2 per cent of the total electricity is generated from imported furnace and diesel oil.

Natural gas contributes 29 per cent to power generation and Pakistan is currently producing 4.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas while the demand is six bcfd. This non-renewable source of energy is likely to decrease to less than one bcfd by 2025. On the other hand, demand will increase to eight bcfd.

The TAPI pipeline, if completed, will be yielding only three bcfd till 2025. The five bcfd gap will persist. Hence power produced from oil and gas is not an economically viable option when the installed capacity of 15,000 MW, which is about 64.2 per cent, will not be available.

Pakistan would require 49,078 MW of electricity till 2025; we need to accept this challenge by increasing our installed capacity to 50,000 MW from 7,000 MW right now. If all the hydel projects in Pakistan are completed by 2025, their combined power generation would be 15,000 MW.

Solar and wind energy is not viable for Pakistan as the cost per unit for both is higher than that of coal. The solution to our energy crisis lies in the use of coal reserves which are present in abundance in the country.

Coal constitutes 40.6 per cent of world’s power generation. Countries with coal reserves are producing most of their electricity from those reserves. About 175 billion tonnes of coal reserves lie in Thar but we produce only 0.1 per cent of our electricity using coal.

If the reserves are utilised properly, we can generate 100,000 MW for over 500 years. Pakistan needs to devise a comprehensive strategy for utilising its coal reserves.

The coal found in Thar is different from other varieties of coal because it contains one per cent sulphur and less than 10 per cent ash. These impurities make it fit for electricity generation as it doesn’t need any pre-treatment before being sent to power stations.

Read more by Hassan here or follow him on Twitter @hassannaqvi5
Hassan Naqvi A reporter at The Express Tribune who has a Masters in Mass Communication degree with distinction from the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore. He tweets @hassannaqvi5
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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